said Thursday its first-quarter earnings fell 42% from a year ago, hit by an extremely mild winter season and higher operating costs.
The St. Louis-based company earned $70 million, or 34 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $121 million, or 62 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 53 cents a share.
First-quarter revenue rose 10.7% to $1.8 billion helped by organic growth, interchange revenue increases and higher natural gas revenues that were driven by higher natural gas prices. Analysts were expecting revenue of $1.65 billion.
"In the second half of the year, we expect, among other things, to realize the benefits from the lack of a Callaway refueling outage, fewer outages at our power plants, and lower MISO costs than in 2005. As a result, despite our slow start in 2006, we continue to expect to deliver solid earnings results for the year," the company said.
The company narrowed its full-year earnings guidance to a range between $2.95 and $3.15 a share compared with its previous guidance of $2.95 to $3.25 a share, citing warmer-than-normal weather in the first quarter of 2006 and projected lower power prices for interchange sales for the remainder of 2006. Analysts are expecting earnings of $3.20 a share.
Heating degree days in the first quarter of 2006 were around 11% below a mild 2005 first quarter and 18% below normal, according to the National Weather Service. Weather is estimated to have reduced first-quarter earnings by 4 cents a share over 2005 and 7 cents a share versus normal weather conditions.
Revenue from the company's electric segment remained flat at $1.21 billion. Sales from gas segment rose 18.8% to $589 million.
The company's shares are trading at $49.61, down 5 cents, or 0.1% Thursday.
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